Friday, July 14, 2006
Interesting to see from the latest Wired mag that Daniel Pink (author of A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age) claims that there are 2 kinds of geniuses - the early bloomer and the late bloomer. More at http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/14.07/genius.html
And a great commentary on writing for Wired is here: http://www.pauldifilippo.com/glass_preface.pdf
Here is an excerpt:
Here's what I believe was done to my original story to bring it into a state of
supreme Wiredness. I think than anyone willing to read both the version here and the
version that appeared in Wired will second these assertions.
* All references to "the little people" were eliminated. The elite world that
matters according to Wired is full of Big Actors. Whether professor, millionaire, artist,
manager, engineer, hacker, or eccentric, they are all Important People. The grunts and--
God perish the thought!--the "unwired" who actually keep things running are unnamed,
invisible and unworthy of attention.
* Ambiguity was minimized. Everything in the Wired universe is known with
certainty. This is good for you, that is bad. You're part of the Movement, or you're out in
the cold. No dissenters from the reigning cyber-Babbitry are allowed, no grey areas
* Facts were cloaked in "hipness." It's not enough to convey the information,
but it must be delivered in such a way as to inculcate the feeling that both the writer and
his readers are already intellectually above whatever scene is being described, more
expert than the experts. This results in a prose that reads as if written by a team of
Austin Powers and Dustin Hoffman's Rainman character, and paradoxically gives the
majority of Wired articles a curious sense of "been there, done that" even if the topic is
* The past was dismissed as unimportant. History does not matter except as
prelude to the future. Even the present is merely a waystation toward Technotopia.
* Quotidian matters were de-emphasized. Boredom does not exist in the
Wired cosmos. Only "peak" experiences count. The immense amounts of hard work
involved in getting from conception to reality--work which can even have its own simple
meditative pleasures--is just something to skip blithely over.
* Drama was injected into basically undramatic situations. This is a corollary
to the previous problem, and perhaps the one flaw in this list shared by magazines in
general. "Why are we devoting space to this story? Because it's exciting!" Are we
having fun yet? We'd better be, or our advertisers won't feel they're getting their money's
I'm not paranoid enough to imagine that any of these dicta exist as a written
stylesheet. If quizzed, Wired editors would probably deny that they had any agenda other
than to present "cool" stuff to their audience. But when a well-funded, image-conscious
juggernaut like Wired gets rolling, it's inevitable that all of the harnessed team has to pull
in unison. The corporate attitude becomes just something in the air, inhaled like
Strontium-90 and passed down from veteran to novice to freelancer.
For a few bleak days, I toyed with having my lobotomized story published under a
pseudonym. "J. Ives Turnkey" was going to be my choice. I thought the byline would
leap out fairly effectively as "jive turkey," a kind of analogy to Cordwainer Bird. But in
the end, I chose to go with my own name.